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  1  European Kabbalah in Modern Intellectual History Program in Jewish StudiesPerelman InstitutePrinceton University April 2013Jonathan GarbGershom Scholem Professor of Kabbalah,Hebrew University  Reflections on the State of the Field  My thanks for all who facilitated this wonderful visit, especially Yaakov Dweck, Peter Schaefer and Moshe Sluhovsky.In recent years, we have seen, amongst both senior and younger scholars, a growing recognitionof the independence and importance of the modern period in Jewish history. When considering acivilization whose roots lie deep in antiquity, whose most formative text, the Talmud, wascompiled in late antiquity, and whose central legal and philosophical figure, Maimonides,operated in the high Middle Ages, this is far from an obvious move. Nonetheless, there is muchin common sense that supports it. Due to mere demography, the number of Jews in the modern period was greater and their geographical spread more far-flung. Because of print and later thedigital revolution, the scope of discourse is far more extensive. And inherent in the process of modernization itself, the scope of challenges, in both adversity (as in the Holocaust) and triumph(Israel and the unprecedented success of the North American center) is staggering. Modernityhas one more advantage it is continuing and accelerating, at least of one does not believe that wehave somehow moved into a new, post-modern era.  2 The separateness and the salience of the modern are also embedded in the self-consciousness of its agents. Whilst medieval thinkers did not think of themselves as such, wehave the quarrel of the ancients and the moderns, via moderna , devotio moderna (although these pre-date the usual periodization of modernity) as well as the distinction, crucial in halakhic or legal discourse, between the Rishonim, the first ones, and the Aharonim, the late ones (asexamined by Israel J. Yuval in the European context). It is perhaps superfluous to say that theself-awareness of modernity is a galvanizing factor in the process of modernization however this point is often overlooked in Jewish studies, that is not always accustomed, even after HayyimYosef  Yerushalmi‟s  Zakhor  , of thinking of Jewish intellectual history itself as an ever-changingconstruct rather than merely a domain to be investigated. It must be stressed that modern self-awareness does not imply, as is sometimes assumed, secularization. Actually, one of therefreshing changes inaugurated by the new wave of studies of Jewish modernity, is theappreciation of so-called Orthodox trends as expressions of modernization, alongside with andnot merely responding to, secular developments.The residual resistance that one encounters to the increasing stress on the modern divideis not merely the result of the continuous tradition of training focused on the so- called “Core” of  medieval texts (e.g. Maimonides and the Zohar), as in my own department. Rather, it reflects theinnovative wave of research in the last two decades of the previous century, when the long-term, „panoramic‟ continuities between medieval and even antique forms of thought and modern developments such as Hasidism were discovered by Moshe Idel, Yehuda Liebes, Charles Mopsik Elliot Wolfson and their students, including yours truly. The panoramic approach cannot be setaside, however it must be noted that it moves away from intellectual history, as I and manyothers understand it. The „panoramic‟ methodology and its ally, the even less historical„phenomenological‟ approach, move away from thinking of contexts, genealogies, chains of transmission, networks and fields. In this sense these are much closer to the „history of ideas‟ ascritiqued by writers such as Quentin Skinner, in which the imaginary conversations between sayYehuda Ha-Levi and Levinas, popular in many Jewish thought circles in Israel, take place.In my last comments, I have been zooming in towards a focus on Kabbalah, and this is agood point to evoke the great modernist and historicist scholar Gershom Scholem, who is oft critiqued for his “proximist” historiography, attributing shifts in the history of Kabbalah, as a  3 central player in Jewish thought, to historical events that took place within half a century to acentury of these discursive changes. Most famously, Scholem attributed the golden, formativeage of Kabbalah, its first modern form, the thought of sixteenth century Safed, to the after-effectof the expulsion from Spain. Although this great divide has been roundly criticized, and it is atodds with S cholem‟s own course of research, moving from the twelfth century “beginnings” and petering out in the “last phase” of Kabbalah in the early nineteenth century… I believe that it is correct, yet for other reasons than those that Scholem cited.The Marrano kabbalists, such as the circle of the book   Meshiv (the responding entity) of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, studied by Moshe Idel, responded to the rise of what some deem the first modern state, the Catholic monarchy, and inaugurated an influentialresponse to Christianity, that not unsurprisingly, contains incarnationist, illuminationist and other elements of Catholic thought. 1 It is not a coincidence that one of the kabbalists expelled fromSpain, R. Avraham ben Eliezer Ha-Levi, formulated a mystical and messianic response to theReformation, and one does not have to be Brad Gregory in order to accept the foundational roleof this break in the process of modernization.Thus, I locate the fault in Scholem‟s approach not in proximism, but rather in his focus on the internal dynamic of Jewish history, at expense of the broader context. And indeed it is thecontext that changes so dramatically with the move to modernity. While the explusion and its prelude in the inquisition initially relocated the center of kabbalistic learning from ChristianSpain to the Ottoman Empire, it soon migrated ever northwards, with increasing ripples in Italy,Central, and ultimately Eastern Europe. It was only in the second decade of the twentiethcentury, that Scholem himself participated in the process of re-location of the kabbalistic world,to Palestine and later, to a lesser extent, to North America (yet another event that goes back to the Catholic monarchs…) , alongside with the gradual disappearance of the Kabbalah of theOttoman world after the fall of the empire. In other words, whilst Arab-writing philosophers and perhaps also mystics were important interlocutors for medieval kabbalists (even after the re-   1   For an excellent critique of a rather clumsy attempt to formulate a similar thesis yet ignoringstudies on the Meshiv circle), see Yitzhak Melamed, „ Review of Yirmiyahu Yovel, The Other Within: The Marranos; Split Identity and Emerging Modernity ‟ , The Journal of Modern History ,83 (2011), 198-200.    4 Christianization of Spain that of course culminated with the expulsion), from the sixteenthcentury onwards Kabbalah was largely a European phenomenon.So, wrapping up these preliminary reflections, we have placed the ingredients found inmy title: European Kabbalah and Modern Intellectual History, within the context of the historyand current state of the field, itself a chapter in late modern intellectual history. I now wish toexemplify the approach offered here, through case studies, taken from my two latest books. Thestudies and the books exemplify two discrete methods, that should work together in order to produce a broad, yet strongly contextualized picture of modern Kabbalah.  First Case Study: History as Labor  The first study employs a focused resolution, examining closely the product of one kabbalisticcircle operating in the Veneto during the years 1729-1735. One of the goals of this study is toshow how one can generate valuable general insights from such a focus. The first step in thisinvestigation was to determine the textual boundaries of the circle, through a Scholemian philological study of the numerous texts it produced, determining which figure produced whattexts. The next step was to compose an intellectual biography of the best-known and best-documented member of the circle, R. Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto. My research for the forthcoming book required uncovering the earlier circles in which the young Luzzatto developed, and thecomplex interactions of all of these with a variety of circles and networks throughout theEuropean Jewish world.Indeed, one of the arguments of the book is that the intense controversy generated by Luzzatto‟s messianic claims and unconventional comportment not only provided us with arelative wealth of historical documentation, but also itself generated networks of opponents andsupporters, contributing to the development of the Je wish „republic of letters‟. Therefore, while I do not share Robert Young‟s opinion that biography is the basic discipline for a human science as such, my biographical exercise has certainly convinced me that it is a central tool for the studyof modern Jewish intellectual history. As I have written elsewhere, whilst pre-modern kabbalistic  5 writing tends to be anonymous, often pseudoepigraphical, modern Kabbalah is centered on theexalted individual, its basic social structure is the circles surrounding such figures, andhagiography is one of its major genres.The book is joined by articles showing that a second figure, R. Moshe David Valle, wasof no lesser importance, and that in fact his ego documents, though not a systematic diary or autobiography, and less rich in concrete historical detail, are of far greater value for placementwithin the religious, cultural and intellectual history of the period. This later project is still work in progress, pending on the project that I am currently directing  –  translation of his Italiandebates with Catholicism. I have claimed that R. Valle, the only kabbalist to have commented onvirtually every word in the Hebrew Bible, should  be properly seen at least as R. Luzzatto‟s peer, if not as his teacher, yet certainly not as his follower.These studies are similar in method to the excellent monograph written by YaakovDweck on R. Yehuda Modena and his thoroughly modern polemic against Kabbalah. Here too,we have an even closer  „zoom - in‟   on what the author described (13) as „a total history of a singletext‟. Here too, the philological basis, as in the history of manuscript copying and print, is crucial. However, it unfolds into a fascinating array of interactions, polemics, as well asresponses to premodern texts. These actually overlap with my own case study, as Modenaoperated in the Veneto and Luzzatto and other members of his circle responded to his book. One of Dweck‟s main achie vements is in assisting us to further appreciate the role played byChristian Kabbalah in the history of modern European Kabbalah. This world that came into itsown together with the move into modernity sets apart European Kabbalah from oriental branchesand draws Jewish Kabbalah further into an ongoing debate with Christianity. However, itsgreatest importance lies in its role of mediating the Kabbalah for central European intellectualssuch as Leibiniz. Earlier scholars, academic and traditional, have indeed pointed at the influenceof Leibniz on R. Luzzato, especially around the issue of theodicy. However, the theme that Iwish to investigate here, that of labor, belongs less to the abstract problem of evil and itschallenge to the concept of divine benevolence, and rather to the concrete issue of how human beings spend their time and energy in the modern world.The autobiographical figure central in much of R. Valle‟s writing, including his response to Christianity, is that of the mevarer  , the clarifier or winnower of the divine sparks scattered in